Many of you know about our good family friends - the Noonans. Their son Casey is my age and we grew up across the street from each other for the first 15 years of our life. His dad Terry was the athletic trainer at UNI and worked closely with my mom - and traveled with her - when she worked in the athletic department. Jeri was like a second mom to me and took me and Casey to all the UNI football games and men's basketball games when we were little since my parents had to work at all of them. As Casey and I were starting our 9th grade year, Terry got a position at Oklahoma State, and they moved 10 hours away. I still remember standing in their driveway saying goodbye, never knowing when I would see them again. Casey was (and thankfully still is) like a brother to me - the closest thing to a sibling that I've ever had. He is probably the funniest person I know, and we have always shared a lot of the same values - and have had a lot in common. We're both only children, and I think we both have always been a little more mature than our age due to the fact that we both spent a lot of time around adults. Casey is one of the "good guys." When we would play at his house, I spent a lot of time playing with his cars, his marbels, and watching him shoot hoops with a nurf basketball in his basement. When we were at my house, we swam in our backyard pool and played Barbies. Yes - he was more than willing to play Barbies as long as he got be Ken and drive Barbie's boat. As we got older we spent countless hours riding our bikes up and down the neighborhood street with our other neighbor friends and playing HORSE with the basketball hoop in my driveway. I LOVED my childhood, and my memories of growing up on Maryhill Drive are memories that I cherish -- and I owe that in large part to the friendship we had with the Noonans. I could write a book of all the memories and traditions we have had with them over the years. The fantastic New Years Eve nights, the competitions to see who could put their Christmas tree up first, the nights that Jeri would sit down with me and Casey and read us the Christmas story as we took turns putting out each piece of her big nativity scene at the start of Decemer every year. The sleepovers and going to the training room after every game, where Terry would give us bubble gum and leftover sandwiches and oranges that they had reserved for the athletes. I could go on and on. I am more than grateful that even though they moved so far away for so many years, our relationship with them has not changed. A couple of times we made the drive down to Stillwater, OK to spend a long weekend with them. When they would return to Iowa to see their family in Dubuque, Casey and I always found a way to meet up and see each other -- even if it was only for a few hours. One time in college, he stayed the night at my apartment and we stayed up late watching a movie and making waffles in my waffle maker! There was never anything between us but a strong friendship that withstood the test of time. I am so honored that Casey also stood up for me as a groomsman in my wedding - and Jeri served as a personal attendant.
A couple of years ago, Terry and Jeri moved back to CF because Terry got another position here. I remember when Casey called to tell me that his parents were moving back, I let out the loudest shriek of excitement. Terry now just got another new position at the U of I heading up the athletic training dept. there -- so once again they will be moving away. Luckily, it's only an hour and 20 minutes away this time! Casey still lives in Oklahoma, but having his parents closer makes it a lot easier to see him once or twice a year. When we talk to Jaden about Casey, we always call him "Uncle Casey." For Jaden's first birthday, Casey sent him his first pair of Jordans. For his second birthday, he sent him another new pair of Jordans. I so wish that Casey lived closer because he is so good with kids, and I know Jaden and Brandon would have a blast with him. Especially since Casey is so athletic, and Jaden LOVES to play with footballs, basketballs, etc.
This past Saturday, Cody, Jaden, Brandon, myself and my parents went to Terry and Jeri's house in CF for some pizza and dessert. (Jeri LOVES desert). She had made brownies and we had cookies and cream ice cream. She also set out some chocolate stars -- which is what she always brought along to the Dome for me and Casey on game nights when we were little. She even dug out Casey's old marbels so that Jaden could play with them -- wow, did seeing those marbels again bring about memories! We always have an awesome time when we all get together. The older I get the more I realize that relationships of all kinds come and go. Which is okay - because I believe a lot of times God puts people in our lives for a particular season - to teach us something in that time - but they're not necessarily meant to be in our lives forever. However, if you're lucky you have a few relationships and bonds that stand the test of time and change and distance. I am more comfortable around Terry and Jeri and Casey (even though we hardly ever see each other) than I am around a lot of people I see all the time. I know that no matter how long we go without talking or seeing each other, we will always be able to pick up right where we left off - as if we'd just seen each other yesterday.
These are the shoes Casey bought Jaden for his first birthday! He was so awesome to get him ones with Panther purple!
Uncle Casey and Jaden :) This picture warms my heart!
Casey and I as kids hanging out at my house in our jammies :)
"Friendships that have not only stood the test of time but also the test of change are surely best." :)